Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, January 2nd, 3:30 PM
TV: Fox Sports South
Records: UNC 9-4; St. Francis 2-10
One thing I do know is should Harrison Barnes come out Sunday afternoon and drop 30 on St. Francis while hitting five threes and posterizing some guy we will know all that Year of Hell crap was for real. Not that I expect that to happen but it be as bizarre as endings to UNC bowl games.
This game constitutes the final warm-up prior to the Heels delving into their 16 game ACC schedule. It also should be a walk in the park barring some sort of massive disaster. Ken Pomeroy has St. Francis ranked 326th overall with the 319th rated defense and 315th rated offense. Yes, if you attend the game there is a good chance you might be getting biscuits Monday morning. Of course Kennesaw St who is also 2-10 and ranked a mere seven spots ahead of St. Francis did beat Georgia Tech by 17 so it might be a mistake to take the Red Flash to lightly. Of course Georgia Tech is in a tailspin only equaled by Wake Forest in terms of crapitude so they might not be the best example to use.
For UNC this is the last chance to really lock in on some good things the team can do consistently ahead of a road date with Virginia. St. Francis lacks size boasting only one player over 6-8 and he is a little used 6-11 freshman. That means a steady diet to Tyler Zeller and John Henson, assuming Henson plays. If I were Roy Williams, I'd sit Henson to make sure the thumb heals up but we shall see. Zeller and Knox would be more than enough and based on what we have seen from Justin Watts of late, him playing the four versus this team would not hurt. The Red Flash gets most of its points production from guard Umar Shannon, forwards Will Felder and Mislav Jukic. Jukic is actually the best shooter of the three hitting close to 50% on twos and is 2-5 from three. Both Shannon and Felder are below 40% from the floor. In fact Shannon's overall FG% is only slightly better than his 34.8% from three. It also should be noted that St. Francis is turnover prone averaging 17 miscues per game sporting a horrific TO rate of 24.8%.
What this boils down to for UNC is a test of focus and intensity versus a weaker opponent. Young teams need to learn how to win but they also need to learn how to show up, even for a game they should easily win. At the same time this is also a chance for the Heels to play relaxed and really pay attention to the details, especially in terms of turning the ball over. In other words it would be nice to see a balanced game of solid interior play and some outside shooting similar to what was seen vs Rutgers.
As always, much attention will be paid to Larry Drew and Kendall Marshall. Will Roy continue to balance the minutes between those two or if the game is in control will we see more Marshall than Drew? Tune in to see.
UNC 104 St. Francis 58